Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

An old classic, a tale told to many kids in school as they’re growing up, enjoyed and studied by people of all ages.

John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men continues to grip the nation’s first-time readers and even readers that come back to experience the tragedy unfold again. 

All the characters are loosely based off functional stereotypes: the gentle idiotic giant, the privileged boss’s son with napoleon syndrome, the promiscuous trophy wife, the worn out friend. Not a lot of depth went into the concepts of all these characters, rather their depth is born from the experience of their issues.

No one has a good time in Of Mice of Men, no one gets to see their dreams come alive, despite being a book full of characters that can manage nothing but to dream of a better future, its kind of sad to reach the end point and realise none of them ever do. What makes it more impact is the realisation that the bigger the dream of the character the faster and harder their ambitions were crushed. Curley’s wife, Lenny and George had the biggest dreams for the future and ultimately experienced the most heartbreaking demises. Curley’s wife and Lenny no longer live at the end of their downfalls, but George is left to live out the destruction of all he’d been working towards in an arguably worse fate than those who died. One of the most powerful moments in the book being the very last line where Carlson and Curley are left wondering what was possibly bringing George and Slim so down. The two characters who dreamed the smallest and had no real crushing loss left confused by the fate of those who’d experienced pain. Which only adds more depth to the death of Curley’s Wife. Curley being unable to understand the loss George felt over Lenny’s death cements the wife’s role as nothing more than a nameless trophy. Her death was no real loss to Curley, which creates a rather interesting twinge of irony. The nameless insignificant trophy is the catalyst that leads up to the most tragic moment of the book.

Through Of Mice and Men Steinbeck reminds us of the unfortunate life story that sometimes you just don’t get what you want. No one gets what they want in Of Mice And Men and we never get to see if anyone will. There’s no redemption, just the stark reminder that for a lot of people: The pursuit of happiness amounts to nothing more than just that, a pursuit.

Perhaps this is what makes the book such a classic, this is what makes the tale so relevant and timeless. Loss and the destruction of ambition is a sentiment that doesn’t degrade over time, the American Dream may have changed over time but dreams are held by people of all times. To this respect I think it’s important for people to understand what lies on the other side of their happy ending, fortunately, Steinbeck does just this in Of Mice and Men and he does it well.


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